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British broadband is confusing and speeds are crap, says survey

Webpages that crash

Well, that might be partly due to the connection speed, but mostly it is the mobification and scriptification of the websites. A website that pulls in scripts from two dozen sources to just display the frontpage of whatever is slow and annoying (plus the layout is now for mobile devices, even if there is an app, and to see anything interesting you have to scroll past the full width banner with some f'ing slideshow of stupid irrelevant pictures, which again eats resources and data like crazy, and then there are more full width and full pc-screen height banners down there).

Sorry - yes, I'm annoyed, why do you ask? But yes, connection speed is of course the main culprit *shakes head*

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Re: Webpages that crash

@Joe: you're right. Much like a bypass, the traffic will grow to fill the capacity. Newspaper pages run at 20-40MB if all the ads and scripts are allowed (I've seen 75MB on the Indy) for a data content (news) of a few hundred kB. Page size is set by papers' view of what readers will accept as load time, not their consideration for our bandwidth. If users had 1Gbps then the papers would just cram in more crap for the same load times.

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Unhappy

Re: Webpages that crash

Or it could be all the malware running on their computers because they click on every kitten picture sent to them.

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Pint

Re: Webpages that crash

noscript extension for web browsers definitely helps avoid these issues.

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Re: Webpages that crash

A website that pulls in scripts from two dozen sources to just display the frontpage of whatever is slow and annoying...

And may the Good Lord forgive me for saying it, but IME this website is one of them. Sometimes the little display in the bottom left hand corner of my monitor suggests uploading from numerous sites.

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WTF?

Re: Webpages that crash

..can I mention the excessive left margin on articles that appeared on El Reg recently? Is it a ploy to make us see more adverts (/me looks a bit shifty at this point) by forcing us to scroll?

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Re: Webpages that crash

There is a site I use a lot. Years ago I turned off my adblocker for that site so they'd get a bit of revenue, because they deserved it. And then I noticed a peculiar thing: my browser would crash frequently when looking at pages on their site, and nowhere else. I turned my adblocker on again and the crashes stopped.

Maybe that site has better-behaved ads now. Maybe the many updates to my browser in the intervening years mean the ads that used to crash it no longer do. Maybe it's safe once more. Or maybe not. The site itself tries to cater to a wide variety and version of browsers but advertisers tend to test only on the latest Microsoft thing. I know that on the few occasions I use my mobile to browse the web it occasionally encounters crashing pages and the crashes seem to be only on sites that have the big, flashy, ads, so I'm guessing that site is still going to give me problems.

But even if it's safe to come out of the closet, the adverts are very intrusive on that site. Which I could just about live with. But the ads are also data hungry. I have a monthly limit and I don't want to waste it on adverts I don't look at for products I'd never buy anyway.

Maybe if the site had a link for donations I'd throw a little into the pot occasionally, but it doesn't have one (or it's well hidden).

No prizes for guessing which site I'm talking about.

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Re: Webpages that crash

Indeed -- brilliant add on. I normally ensure these are disabled:

google-analytics.com

doubleclick.net

googletagmanager.com

google.com

twitter.com

facebook.net

ajax.googleapis.com

Sometimes I need the last one for some functionality. Looking at what the Indy or Torygraph request -- and what noscript forbids -- I'm amazed the Internet actually works at all.

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Re: Webpages that crash

and Ad Blockers. But these days if a web page does not pull in stuff from 10 or 20 other sites then it could be considered badly designed.(sic)

One site I use from time to time has 24 tracking sites linked to it. WTF!!!! Strangely if I fire up my VPN and access the site from Germany the trackers drop to 5. Funny that. It also loads quicker.

It is just getting out of hand. All these 'other' sites slow down web pages.

Die Trackers

Die Slurpers

Die Ad slingers.

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Re: Webpages that crash

>Well, that might be partly due to the connection speed, but mostly it is the mobification and scriptification of the websites.

Which is also the reason why we tend to have two or three browsers installed (eg. IE/Edge, Chrome, Firefox). I also find with Android that increasingly the stock browser is unable to load webpages and have to change to Chrome or other browser.

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Re: Webpages that crash

Chrome is the stock browser on Chrome, and has been for a fair while. I know Samsung and some others have installed their own browsers though.

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Re: Webpages that crash

It's video that is the culprit. The trend has been to add annoying pop-up video content, as well as multiple video ads on the sidebars that autoplay when the cursor gets near them. On many news sites the text cannot even be read anymore due to the dynamic page resizing and jumping about as the multiple MBs of content trickle in for every single page.

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Slow websites

Some of the worst culprits of this are some of the biggest names on the net. eBay in particular seem to prioritise loading the 400 adverts displayed on the page before loading the actual content you want to see. Yes, I get that they use the ads as part of their income, but they seriously need to look at how much advertising and how fast it loads. I have all but given up searching for stuff on eBay because it is so slow it often crashes the browser (built-in, Chrome or Mozilla) on my droid tablet. I am on 34Mb/s "Unlimited" fibre and that seems pretty stable, unless of course that "Unlimited" is bullpoop! And before someone pops up with poor WiFi as the cause, most other sites seem fine and I'm getting 34Mb/s via WiFi. On the wired PC it is more like 37Mb/s with 9.5Mb/s upload and a ping of 8ms to the nearest server.

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"The government claims 90 per cent of British households can receive a superfast broadband service."

I must be in the 10% that can't get it. I don't live in the countryside, I can see the cabinet from my house but have still to be upgraded. The rest of the town have had fibre for 2 years but my cabinet has been in the build phase since last year.

I seriously do not believe 90% claim.

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The quote should have been "up to 90% of British households..."

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Anonymous Coward

Why don't you believe it? From your own empirical evidence, the rest of your town has been done, it's just your cabinet that hasn't. That sounds like even in your own town the 90% figure is right.

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Add the problem that they don't bother to check how many people can be supplied from the cabinets they do finally upgrade. How many are filled up before half the target houses are actually able to upgrade?

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...or is it that people really only budget for £23p/m "upto" 17Mbs ADSL with massive contention ratios, they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to.

It's like buying a 60bhp car - you'll put up with it but you'll complain about how slow it is to anyone that'll listen.

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Meh

...or is it that people really only budget for £23p/m "upto" 17Mbs ADSL with massive contention ratios, they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to.

Well the technology involved isn't going to suddenly remove contention but otherwise, yup, that actually is about it. Market and speed test data shows that the top packages are only taken up by a minority even taking availability into consideration. It's not clear though if that's because of ignorance or because people just don't see the need to pay the extra cost.

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We actually went with VM's top package because their contention and bandwidth shaping even on the basic 200Mb connection was utterly appalling. Not sure what speeds we were getting, but it certainly was nowhere near 200Mb, felt more like 5Mb (so bad even iPlayer would buffer). Now the biggest issues seem to be the speeds at the other end, banks are particularly notorious for slow loading webpages. They actually offered us a 300Mb line, but it wasn't guaranteed 300Mb so decided against it.

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" they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to."

FTTH may be overpriced, but here FTTC is 15€ a month and provides 350Mbs with TV and phone included (400Mbs advertised). YMMV

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" they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to."

---

FTTH may be overpriced, but here FTTC is 15€ a month and provides 350Mbs with TV and phone included. YMMV

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> they could buy FTTC ~50Mbps but think it's overpriced and don't/can't afford to.

Among non-IT people there is little real understanding of what connection speed (or CPU speed for that matter) means. With cars, people are more familiar with engine sizes, bhp and acceleration and so people can make a more informed decision buying the 60bhp estate and know that it will only do 70mph, if wound up. Also with speed limits, it is almost a given that a car will be able to do 70mph, the only questions being how long will it take to get there and are you thrashing the engine.

With network speeds, there is little real appreciation of what the real differences are between 18Mbps, 38Mbps, 76Mbps, etc.

So for example my parents decided they don't use the computer and internet very much - "only for emails and a little web lookup) and so purchased a really cheap system and sub-8Mbps ADSL then complaining how difficult it was to do things (mother would get impatient and start clicking and thus cause problems...). The solution was to give them a faster (and more expensive) computer and upgrade to 18Mbps ADSL so that the system then worked at their thinking speed.

Interestingly, I've also encountered the opposite, with one client wanting top end laptops when the only application being used was Remote Desktop...

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"Not sure what speeds we were getting, but it certainly was nowhere near 200Mb, felt more like 5Mb (so bad even iPlayer would buffer)."

FWIW, I'm on VM 100Mb/s and get the speeds as advertised (where the source xan send it that fast) the vast majority of the time. But iPlayer still stutters now and then. I'd strongly recommend never using iPlayer performance as a measure of your BB quality because iPlayer itself seems to be of highly variable quality as a source.

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Facepalm

made up words

We can have surveys until the cows come home, but getting a marketing person to stop with the bullshit is just not going to happen.

After 10 years plus of "Up to" and with companies STILL not obligated to tell you if they throttle the connection at peak times is it any wonder that one of the most technical products people buy is called by the stupid and meaningless name "superfast".

The fact that the article has to clarify that superfast is 24 and not 10 megabits shows the absurdity.

Why not say superfast broadband is measured by 270 african parrots flying in straight line against the wind.

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Re: "270 african parrots"

You mean up to 270 African parrots, because here in the deepest, darkest jungles of Scotland I get a maximum of about 4½ parrots, or less when it's raining (which is 364¾ days of the year).

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UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

The service they offer their customers is appealing and their MO is "Don't like it, then you know what to do, but you will find the opposition just as shit"

Generally the moment you need to call the service desk, then you may as well look at cancelling your direct debits before they take any more cash.

The best answer when dealing with their customer support on them calling you about lack of payment is "you can answer in Court why you feel this payment is due, because I certainly didn't receive the service"

From Talk Talk selling a 1Mb line to my parents for £60 a month

to BT Charging me for my old house for 6 months (as well as my new house) then cutting off the new connection and trying to charge me to reconnect it

to Virgin selling their "Gamer Package" for £150-200 a month complete with hardware that actually means a gamer would have received a better experience using their phone as a mobile hot spot...

EVERY one of the top ISPs has had their customer service lie to me on the phone regarding the service at some point, from straight out technobabble when they don't want to tell me they have oversubscribed the services in my area to downright lies regarding anything from packet shaping to shit modems

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Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

uniformly? Try Zen.

P.

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Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

Or Andrews & Arnold

But both Zen and A&A cost more than TalkTalk, BT, VM, etc, for a superior service.

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Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

@ Gordon Pryra: The service they offer their customers is appealing...

Not to me it isn't, but then I think you meant appalling.

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Go

Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

The service they offer their customers is appalling and their MO is "Don't like it, then you know what to do, but you will find the opposition just as shit"

Not quite. They are crap if - like most people - you buy at the budget end. If you're prepared to pay extra (Zen, IDNet, AAISP to name a few) you will get better customer service. I wonder how much you're paying for internet connection and 'phone? Mine comes to just over £50pcm and doesn't include anything else. Expensive? Yes. But I have access to the keen and capable IDNet support team. It's also an ISP that rolled out dual-stack IPv6 several years ago.

You get what you pay for.

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Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

Or ICUK.

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FAIL

Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

"get what you pay for"

Only you don't. When the kids get home from school, many cheap connections slow to sub-1Mbps speeds. This is only allowed because Ofcom is controlled by the ISPs.

A cheap link should give you modest, but usable speeds. Most give you either unusable speeds, or no service at all at peak times because they are allocating all the bandwidth to the expensive services.

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Re: UK ISP are uniformly terrible.

Or IDNet?

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Childcatcher

Re: "usable speeds"

I agree completely. If you pay more then you should get more, but that doesn't mean that if you pay less then you should get something that is not fit for purpose, because that's just paying for nothing, which is basically just theft.

The internet should not only be for the rich. A basic, usable service should be accessible to all.

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The one thing people fail to realise is 90% of the time, changing the provider will not make a blind bit of difference as the issue it the PoS infrastructure that openreach fails to maintain or train engineers to service (They have been offically short of engineers for at least 5 years.)

the only other option to most is Virgin, if you have the fibre, depending on which constituent company installed it, but still some areas are on Openreach cables. Or a smaller fibre provider, but that usually entails a larger upfront cost.

If BT had rolled out a fibre network in the 90s like everyone else, instead of patching with Alu Alloy cos its good enough for phone calls, we would have much better performance.

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If BT had rolled out a fibre network in the 90s like everyone else...

A couple of points... which "everybody else" would that have been then? And IIRC from comments made by others on various BB threads, BT were prevented from delivering a proper network.

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Anonymous Coward

There's far more to broadband performance than simply the last mile. The amount of backhaul and peering bandwidth your ISP buys has a massive effect.

I'm not aware of any countries that have a 100% fibre access network. Which countries are you thinking of? The use of aluminium in access networks was a 70's phenomenon, not 90's.

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Meh

If BT had rolled out a fibre network in the 90s like everyone else, instead of patching with Alu Alloy cos its good enough for phone calls, we would have much better performance.

Some people would. Unfortunately it's likely that roll-out would only now be entering its end game. And it's unclear if BT would have been able/willing to invest in DSL while funding and building the FTTP roll-out. So if you're currently languishing with ADSL instead of FTTC you might in that alternate universe be languishing on an analogue modem.

I've posted this link before. It's a very interesting attempt to work out the costs and timescales of an FTTP roll-out.

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If BT had rolled out a fibre network in the 90s like everyone else, .... cont.

I suspect we would be having a very similar conversation today!

In the mid 1990's, when the WWW aka Information Superhighway was the thing, what would have been the line speed? I suspect given we are talking about HTML 1.0/2.0 with no video or audio streaming, TPTB, will have decided to only enable 1Mbps service (remember most office LANs were only 10Mbps and dial up was 56kbps...)

So as AndrueC intimates, BT would now be in the final stages of deploying a 1Mbps FTTP universal service, with the problem of how to upgrade it to something faster...

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>only 10Mbps and dial up was 56kbps...

10Mbps half-duplex, on a hub with lots of other users hanging off the other ports...meaning a big collision domain and shite throughout for all.

56K was 'up to' 56k, and frequently less than that. I was working for a major telecoms equipment manufacturer then, and had the job understanding the impact of this new-fangled V.90 stuff on our equipment and network, then adjusting our stuff accordingly. Oh what fun!

Even under laboratory conditions (as opposed to 'real world' conditions), lots of different manufactures kit struggled to interoperate at >45k reliably. Common trick was to establish at and report a high connection speed to appear good, then fall back to a lower speed for reliability/stability reasons. Plus things like running Lap-m (HDLC, really) introduced further overhead.

I went on to develop ADSL DSLAMS for a while, then moved on to other things before VDSL became a thing.

Bottom line here is that nothing apart from the base speed of the low layer bitstream has changed. Base speed is now several orders of magnitude above that of the 90s, but the other issues (Selling/differentiating on reported speed, rather than useable throughout), optimising for appearance rather than performance etc.) remain the same.

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Meh

Why ask about page crashes in a broadband quality survey? I see countless page crashes a day at work mostly caused by suppliers tinkering with their sites.

I'm wondering what the reason of asking a question which could be blamed on pretty much anything unrelated to the survey topic afterwards could be...

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Anonymous Coward

Hefty Sums?

I don't know about 'hefty sums' - broadband in Britain is amongst the cheapest in Europe.

Almost as if - wait for this - the very low pricing makes it terribly hard for anyone to justify investment in better networks.

Give people the choice between fast broadband and cheap broadband, 85% of people take the cheap one.

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Re: Hefty Sums?

I don't buy that argument. It's about competition.

In the US they pay far more than us for lower speeds solely because of lack of competition, so to suggest we don't pay enough to justify investment sidesteps the issue.

BT Openreach monopoly? Hello?

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Re: BT Openreach monopoly? Hello?

sure Openreach is a monopoly but unlike the USA it is forced to allow other carriers to use their exchange to subscriber kit.

In the USA one telco will go to extraordinary lengths to stop other carriers getting access to their turf. This inlcudes removing poles and even sabotage.

Which would you rather have eh?

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Re: Hefty Sums?

On my BT exchange only line, I get one choice - Expensive and slow.

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Facepalm

Egg marketing to sell eggs

A survey from a company that makes money from people using its site to change utility supplier tells us that we're unhappy, in general, with our broadband and, by extension, encourages us to change supplier.

Well they're not going to tell us everything is tickety-boo now, are they?

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can anyone tell me why ADSL2+ (up to 24Mbps) is no longer available? Up to 17Mbps seems to be the best ADSL speed offered

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ADSL2+

ADSL2+ is still available. I think all ADSL is now provided using ADSL2+ even if it's limited to 8Mbps. The reason the up to 24Mbps connections dissappeared is that it was only achievable in very specific circumstances. You had to be practically sitting in the exchange to get that speed.

Also marketing, most people can get 40 or 80 on VDSL now so there's no need to try and market your ADSL as 24Mbps anymore because you can offer a faster service on VDSL.

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Re: ADSL2+

More specifically, it's to do with the ruling that you can't advertise a speed above the level that a certain percentage of users can get - part of a past attempt to get a bit more honesty in internet connection marketing.

So yes, ADSL2+ is technically capable of 24Mbps - but only if you are almost in the exchange. Once you get out to real line lengths, the speed drops off. it just so happens that across the installed base, x% can get 17Mbps or faster, so 17Mbps is what's advertised. I can't remember what x is, but that's where the 17Mbps comes from - some will get better, IIRC we had a customer getting well over 20Mbps before they upgraded to FTTC.

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